Awakened: Book One of the Mind Agents Series

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Chapter 21

Jack holds Maya’s hand as he runs alongside the gurney. He doesn’t want to let go.

“Maya, hang in there, okay?” Jack doesn’t know what to say, or if she can even hear him.

Chris runs along the other side. “Maya, you’re strong, if you can hear me, stay strong.”

Orderlies steer her into an operating room. Somebody whips open a large curtain around a table. Medics come in from another entrance, snapping on latex gloves. Jewel is with them.

“We need these kids out,” one of the medics says. Jewel makes his way toward Jack and Chris.

Jack doesn’t want to let go of Maya.

“Need you guys to go outside and wait,” Jewel says. “They need to take a look at her. You’ll just be in the way.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Jack asks.

“They’re going to take a look.” He moves closer, trying to sweep them back toward the door.

Jack cups Maya’s hand in his. He doesn’t dare let his mind go where he feels it going. Could she be dying? Will he ever see her again? These doctors couldn’t possibly know anything about what happened, could they?

Jewel puts his hand on Jack’s arm.

“Jack, best thing you can do to help her right now is let the doctors do their work.”

A medic detaches Jack’s hand from Maya’s as the others move her to the operating table.

Jewel escorts Jack and Chris to the hall, and then takes out a smartphone and starts tapping.

Chris looks at Jack angrily. “Why did you have to do that?”

“Do what?”

“Was it your idea? This whole experiment?”

“Don’t even—”

“Don’t even what?” Chris steps close and looks right in his face.

“Boys, boys,” Jewel says, stepping back into the hall. “Settle down and have a seat.” He motions to a small, open waiting room and walks behind them toward it.

Jack and Chris sit in chairs facing each other. Jewel walks back toward the operating room.

“If anything happens to her, I swear . . .” Chris says, shaking his head.

Jack’s blood boils. He’s not sure why Chris is being so hostile. “Chris, just leave me alone. I’m seriously upset right now, and you’re blaming me? Maya’s in there hurt and you have to act all tough? What’s that about?”

Chris looks away. Jack’s baring his honest feelings seems to have mollified him for now.

“Somebody has to set things right,” Chris says. “This is not right.”

Jack unthinkingly blurts out, “Yeah, well, it’s not you.”

“Who is it, then? You?”

“Lay off!” Jack stands.

Chris runs to Jack as if to tackle him. Jack stands his ground and braces for impact.

Before he hits, Jewel steps between them and stops Chris with an outstretched arm like a steel girder. He puts his other hand on Jack’s chest.

“Gentlemen, I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of brig in this facility. I’m sure it’s dark, and dank, and not very comfortable. But if you can’t settle down, I am going to put both y’all in it. Am I making myself clear?”

Chris simmers, breathing heavily through his nostrils, his eyes locked on Jack’s.

“Get your emotions in check. You’re not helping anybody with this, least of all yourselves.”

Chris backs off from Jewel and paces, rubbing the back of his neck.

Jack looks to Jewel desperately. “What is this place? What are they training us to do here, and what is it doing to us?”

Jewel looks at him like he wants to answer. Jack can tell he won’t. “I think we’re all a little frustrated—”

“Incredibly frustrated.” Chris interjects.

“—that nobody’s telling us what’s going on. And some really freaky things are happening. Is somebody trying to kill us? Are we part of some kind of mind-control experiment?”

“Jack,” Jewel begins. He’s stopped by the movement of a small group of security guards into the waiting room from the hall. The doctor is with them. She steps forward from the group.

“Stop this nonsense. Stop it right now.” She plants herself firmly in front of them.

“Nonsense?” Jack says. “We want to know what’s going on around here!”

“This program requires certain security protocols.” Her voice drips with impatience. “Because of the nature of our work.”

“Well, we’d just like to know what that work is, that’s all,” Jack spans his hands out. “Since we’re the ones doing it.”

Chris walks around Jewel to face the doctor. He seems to have softened. “I think we’re starting to figure out what we’re doing here. It started with Sabine, then now something happened with Maya.”

Jack moves to stop Chris. He doesn’t want him to tell them the intimate details, but Chris holds him at arm’s length. Jack backs down, realizing it’s probably best not to rile him up again. He also accepts that they’ll probably have to tell the whole story, despite the fact that such forthrightness isn’t exactly reciprocal.

Chris continues. “She had what you called an ‘event.’ She moved my arm. I felt it.” He looks at Jack. “I almost can’t believe it, still. It doesn’t make sense. But we think she might have done it using her mind.”

The doctor perks up. “Is that right?”

“Yeah. It was incredible.”

“I believe it,” Jack says, taking the opportunity to find common ground with Chris.

“That’s tremendous news. A significant breakthrough.”

Jack shakes his head. “Doctor, it knocked her out. Her ear was bleeding. This is not ‘great’—not in any way is this ‘great’!”

“Of course. I’m sorry, boys. I’m sure you’re both feeling quite anguished about what happened. I understand she was hurt and you’re upset. But this is a positive development, which we need, especially now. We believe she will recover from her episode.”

Chris takes the logic further, “So, if this is what you’re teaching us here, what happens if we develop some kind of . . . ability? Does it knock us out? Does it short-circuit our brains? Is that what you’re studying?”

“Sabine hasn’t been feeling right since the accident,” Jack puts two and two together. “She’s been kind of run down. We thought she just had a fever or something.”

“We’re monitoring her closely,” the doctor says.

“Or,” Chris continues, “Can we assume we’re not the first? That you’ve trained other people? Is there some ‘bad man’ out there who has these abilities, and he’s targeting us? You just said ‘especially now.’ What did you mean by that? Is some mind-control terrorist out there trying to kill us?”

“We can’t divulge specific details.”

Chris throws up his hands.

“However, I can tell you we’ve determined that our security is in fact compromised.”

“Gee, you think?” Jack says. “This place is wide open. We should be in some kind of underground bunker doing stuff like this.”

“No security is perfect,” Jewel says. “We’ve taken the appropriate measures.”

The doctor hastily adds, “And we were approved earlier today for a doubling of the guard, which will begin within the next few days.”

“I don’t think that’s going to cut it,” Jack says.

Chris shakes his head. “Me neither. You’re saying the bad man is real. Some psychic terrorist is out there. That’s what you’re saying.”

The doctor holds up her hands as if to clarify.

Jack interrupts, “What I don’t understand is why somebody would want to come after us? We can’t do anything. Well, Maya can, apparently, and maybe Sabine. But not much, and what they can do knocks them out. We’re hardly a threat to anybody.”

The doctor purses her lips. “Perhaps what frightens our enemies is what you might become, given more time, and more development.”

Chris and Jack share a look.

Jack lets the import of the doctor’s words sink in. “What can we do, doctor? I mean right now, what can we do to help?”

“Continue your training. Cooperate. That will be a great help to Maya, and to all of us.”

“I can’t concentrate on all this Luminosity crap. Not now,” Chris says. “I’m sorry, but how do we know this guy isn’t going to try something again?”

The big picture hits Jacks like a stun gun. He drops into a chair. “Oh, no.”

“What?” Chris asks.

Jack looks up to Chris woefully. “I think they’re trying to train us so we can stop that guy.”

Chris snaps his eyes to the doctor and Jewel. “Is that true? This guy can tear down a building with his mind, and we’re supposed to stop that?”

The doctor puts her hands behind her back, lowers her head, and then brings it up to look at them. “You may be the only ones who can.”

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